Media Moves

Coverage: There are now more job openings than people to fill them

June 6, 2018

Posted by Chris Roush

U.S. job openings unexpectedly rose to a fresh record in April, with vacancies increasingly exceeding the number of unemployed workers amid a robust labor market, Labor Department data showed Tuesday.

Sho Chondra of Bloomberg News had the story:

The gains reinforce the view that the economy is creating jobs at a pace that can absorb any remaining labor-market slack. The report follows data released last week that showed payrolls increased more than forecast in May, the unemployment rate fell to 3.8 percent, matching April 2000 as the lowest since 1969, and wages also picked up.

March’s upward revision made it the first time in data back to 2000 that vacancies exceeded the number of unemployed, a gap of 48,000. That difference grew to 352,000 in April and is poised to keep widening, as the number of unemployed dropped further in May, to 6.07 million.

Although it lags the Labor Department’s other jobs data by a month, the JOLTS report adds context to monthly payrolls figures by measuring dynamics such as resignations, help-wanted ads and the pace of hiring.

The rise in openings in April was broad-based, led by professional and business services, the JOLTS report showed. Other gainers included manufacturing, trade and transportation, and leisure and hospitality.

Jim Puzzanghera of the Los Angeles Times reported that it’s the first time openings have numbered more than the unemployed since the number was tracked starting in 2000:

The Midwest had the highest rate of job openings at 4.8% of total employment and available jobs. The West, which includes California and 12 other states, was next at 4.4%.

“Never before have we had an economy where the number of open jobs exceeds the number of job seekers,” Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta said. “This administration is committed to ensuring that all Americans have the necessary skills to access good, family-sustaining jobs.”

Although the Labor Department job openings data only goes back to 2000, one analyst’s study based on other data determined that the last time openings outnumbered unemployed Americans was 1970.

Early in the recovery from the Great Recession in 2009, there were more than six unemployed workers for every job opening. That ratio has been narrowing ever since. In April, there was fewer than one unemployed worker for every opening.

But some jobs are filled without posting a formal vacancy. And just because someone has a job doesn’t mean that they’re living comfortably.

Steve Goldstein of reported the number is up dramatically from six unemployed for each opening during the recession:

As the recession ended, there were about 6 unemployed people for every job opening. Now, there’s 1 unemployed person for every opening, a sign of how the dynamics in the job market have changed.

If anything, companies complain about the available pool of talent. That said, these firms haven’t aggressively bid up wages to secure the best workers.

The story isn’t a new one for financial markets, particularly after the sterling jobs report released on Friday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average made minimal gains on Tuesday.

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